The Ascension of the Lord – Sister Barbara Metz, SNDdeN
Mark 16: 15-20
May 13, 2021
The account of the Ascension in the Acts of the Apostles is often the text that artists use to depict the events of the feast. Their pictures usually have Jesus’ feet in them. The disciples gathered at the bottom of the frame are staring upward at the sky with open mouths. Luke tells of two men in white who ask the disciples why they are standing looking up at the sky. They are reminded that their focus should not be on Jesus who has gone but on Jesus who will come again in the same way. Don’t look up, the angels say. Look out. Look within. Don’t get caught up in what is past, but see what is happening right now. They, and we, will find God in every new decision, in word and action, in our relationships, in our choices for love, compassion and forgiveness. The angelic advice is about perspective. Mark describes the disciples following the invitation to go out. They went out, preached the word everywhere and the Lord was working with them.
Pope Francis in his book Let Us Dream speaks powerfully of what our post Ascension living should be in this moment of our human history. He says, “We are born, beloved creatures of our Creator, God of love, into a world that has lived long before us. We belong to God and to one another, and are part of creation. And from this understanding, grasped by the heart, must flow our love for each other, a loved not earned or bought because all we are and have us unearned gift.” The pope goes on to describe the time of corona lockdown as a Noah moment. We have been with a few people for a long time and now we will be coming “off the boat” into a new reality. What have we learned this past year we want to bring to our new moment and beginning? It is Pope Francis’ hope that we open our eyes to all around us and let suffering touch us. It means seeing, really seeing one another and letting compassion and tenderness take hold of our beings.
He points out the need for the Spirit of God to deliver us from some disastrous ways of escaping from reality. A narcissism that center us only ourselves and judges everything in so far as it profits us keeps us from being able to love and serve our neighbor. Discouragement leads to lament and complain about everything so we no longer see what is around us or what others can offer us, only what we think we have lost. Pessimism is a door we shut on the future and the new possibilities it can hold. These attitudes block us, paralyze us and cause us to focus on things that keep us from moving ahead.
Jesus is with us until the end of time. Our Noah time calls us to be attentive to the gospel mandate to love one another and care for the least among us. That can only happen if we are keenly aware of what is happening with us. In this Ascension time we can become increasingly aware of the grasp of what binds us to our brokenness and sin. Jesus comes in so many ways throughout our days. We meet him again and again eye to eye, right where we live.
Mark 16: 15-20
Jesus said to his disciples:“Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.
The Gospel of the Lord
Meet Sister Barbara Metz, SNDdeN
Mark 14: 1 – 15:47